Sunday, July 06, 2008

A-day - 3, Sunday, July 6, by Bob

I am sitting at the computer, Mike is sleeping, Melinda is playing the piano, and Josh is outdoors playing. We are 45°04N 175°15E, 444 miles south of Agattu. It's an hour before sunset. Water temperature is 49. Outside air temperature is 49. Inside air temperature is a balmy 68F. We are motoring into an 8-9 knot wind. No fish today. There are a lot of birds out here, though -- albatross, petrels, penguins, etc.

Agattu is an island a few miles southeast of Attu. Attu is the westernmost of the Aleutian Islands. We are ultimately headed for Attu, but we plan to make a stop at Aggatu since it's on the way.

This morning I was enjoying myself in an excellent dream when Mike came in and said we needed to make some repairs. I hoped it wouldn't take long so I could return to my dream.

Our boat has a jousting pole that sticks out about 6 feet in front. It's a thick aluminum pole that holds the bottom of the gennaker, the big front sail. The jousting pole, a.k.a bowsprit (I think), is held onto the boat by a couple of large cables reaching from the front, center down at an angle to each hull. There is a "stay," another long cable or pole or something that goes from the bowsprit up to the top of the mast. This helps hold the mast up, and it holds up the bowsprit.

One of the cables that holds the bowsprit broke loose. The bowsprit was flopping around a little. Luckily we weren't in much wind when it happened, or it could have done some more damage. We tied off the bowsprit to a cleat, and took down the gennaker. This was a moderately big job, but not as hard as putting it down in the hold through the 23" square opening. But we did it. We were talking about taking the boat in that condition for some weeks.

A padeye is a metal plate with half a metal ring sticking out at a perpendicular plane. It's used to tie stuff to. A big padeye was used on the hull to hold the cable to the bowsprit. The semicircle ring broke and bent, turning loose the cable. We eventually figured out that there are other padeyes like the broken on the boat. We took one off the back of the boat. Then we started work on the front. The broken padeye was held on by 4 large 17mm bolts. These bolts have allen heads.

The Minnow has watertight compartments in the front bottom of the boat (and other places). That way if we hit something in the water, we won't sink. Also, if the rest of the boat floods, these watertight compartments should keep the boat afloat, although we have not tested it yet. The Titanic had a similar design.

The back ends of the padeye bolts are inside the watertight compartment. So we cut a hole in it so we could take off the old padeye and put in a new one. The watertight compartment is about 6 feet high. We cut a hold big enough for an arm to go through comfortably, but not an arm and a flashlight at the same time.

The padeye bolts were a couple of feet below the top of the watertight compartment, so it was fairly easy to reach them. But somehow a couple of hammers ended up at the bottom of the watertight compartment. It was not possible to reach them. I cannot figure out how this happened, because I was the only one working there and I certainly could not have done anything that stupid.

While I was thrashing around with hammers, jigsaws, drills, and 17mm nuts, Mike was out in the dinghy trying to get an allen wrench into the heads of the bolts while bouncing up and down in 3-4 foot waves. He only stripped one of the bolt heads, and he only lost one set of allen wrenches despite having them tied to himself. That's pretty good for him even on dry land.

Josh and Melinda were in on the action too, but with a notable absence of the notably stupid moves to which Mike and I are accustomed. I don't even think they lost a single tool.

Eventually we got it all back together, attached the cable to the jousting pole, got the sail back out of the hold, and got the sail up. But not after some slightly creative rope routing on my part. Then I spent a lot of time trying to get the hammers. It's not that we particularly needed the hammers, but the principle of the thing. It is highly irritating to see something a few feet away
and not be able to get it.

Josh spent a little while at it and got both hammers. He cheated, though. He used his brain. Now, all I have to do is remember to seal the watertight compartment before we hit a rock or an iceberg. And now, I cannot remember what my dream was about.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Penguins? Did you go the wrong direction?